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Driving While Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance


In recent news, a Boca Raton woman was given a 10-year prison sentence for killing a 31-year-old man in 2014 with her car. She was driving while high on cocaine and also drunk with a blood alcohol content of more than three times the level deemed to impair a person’s driving ability, according to the Palm Beach Post. The judge brushed off her attorney’s wishes to impose only the mandatory minimum sentence of four years. Her driver’s license has also been revoked for the remainder of her life.

Controlled Substances, Chemical Substances, and Blood Alcohol Level

As per Florida statute 316.193, it is unlawful in the state of Florida to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Additionally, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of other substances “when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.” As such, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while influenced by a controlled substance, such as cocaine or marijuana, or chemical substance, such as acetone or isopropanol, as listed in Florida statute 877.111. In addition to the list of prohibited chemical substances outlined in the former statute, it is illegal to inhale, snort, or otherwise consume (and operate a vehicle) any other chemical that “distorts or disturbs the auditory, visual, or mental processes.”

Fines and Penalties for Operating a Vehicle While Impaired

The fines for operating a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by a controlled substance or chemical substance are the same. However, additional criminal charges may be applied for the possession of illegal substances.

  • First conviction within 10 years: $500 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail;
  • Second conviction within 10 years: $1,000 to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail;
  • Third conviction within 10 years: $2,000 to $5,000 and up to 12 months in jail;
  • Fourth conviction, regardless of time period: Not less than $2,000 and a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Additionally, a second conviction within 10 years will result in the mandatory use, and expenses paid by the convicted DUI party, of an interlock ignition device (the operator of the vehicle must blow into the device and a legal BAC must be read to start the vehicle). The interlock device must be used for at least one year. A third and fourth DUI conviction will result in a mandatory two year period, each, of interlock ignition use.

Fines and Penalties for Driving While High or Drunk and Causing Bodily Injury

  • Causing damage to property or a person: First degree misdemeanor;
  • Causing serious bodily injury: Third degree felony; and
  • Causing death: second or first degree felony.

Call The Skier Law Firm

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance or chemical substance, call the West Palm Beach law offices of the Skier Law Firm today at 561-820-1508. We are eager to help you with your case.



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